For most musicians, creating their art is about self-expression and working through potentially tough times. They make it out of a desire to inspire feelings of joy, or sadness, or any number of powerful emotions. That’s what it should be for the people actually crafting songs and albums, but for a record label, it’s about selling something. They may be in a creative industry, but record labels are still businesses, and money needs to be made.
This is something you will want to keep in mind as an artist, whether or not you’re looking to be signed, because you need to make money off of your creations one way or another. Many musicians hear this advice and they think it’s a suggestion to focus on nothing but what’s happening at the top of the charts and avoid anything brazen or different.
That simply isn’t true! The best musicians who have ever lived have found innovative ways to change styles and bring their genres to new places, but they did so in a way millions of people could get behind. Who says great art can’t be catchy, and it can’t be sold by artists who have a cool look to them as well?
This isn’t to say those working at record labels aren’t interested in promoting great music or pushing art, but those companies do need to keep the lights on, and the money for things like studio time and promotion needs to come from somewhere.
If you can show you have a fan base who will stick with you and take interest in everything you post, that’s something a smart executive would pay attention to.